The 7th Annual Iron Horse Ultra 100 will be taking place Saturday and Sunday, with over 150 runners participating in the race that’ll see some of the runners go day and night trying to complete 100 miles on the Iron Horse Trail. Committee member Ben Poulin has been involved in the race for four years, his wife Monique is the race director, with five other members of the committee the goal is simple, “make people run 100 miles in 27 hours or less.”
The race is one of twelve in the Alberta Ultra series, to be considered “ultra” status the race must be more than 42 kilometres, “as soon as you’re in a run over a marathon, 42 kilometres, you’re an ultra runner,” Ben explains. The Iron Horse Ultra 100 is the last of the Ultra series for the summer, so it’s a little cooler, which runners tend to like. “We have the most runners ever this year with around 150, which is up from last year at 130.” Ben says a lot of runners in the Ultra series like to finish with the Iron Horse to make sure they have good times on their records for the end of the season, “we’re one of the easier races because we don’t have a lot of mountains and hills. It’s usually cooler and dry conditions for runners.”
There’s various options for runners on the course, says Ben, “we have the option of 100 kilometres or 100 miles, which is 160 kilometres.” Ben says the course starts and ends in St. Paul, “we loop around St. Paul then down the Iron Horse, at St. Edward in the coolie we cut across some county and private land. The second stage starts on Highway 41 near Moose Hill Roads, we cut down the valley near Moose Hills Lake, then to Elk Point.” That’s where the course splits off says Ben, “runners on the shorter race cut from Elk Point to Armistice. The 100 milers cuts through the Elk Point golf course, the trails in the bushes over there, then cut through the river bank to Fort George Buckingham House. The next stage goes to Lindbergh then back into Elk Point, from there back east to St. Paul. In the Stoney Lake area there’s another transition, then the last 20 k back to St. Paul.”
The 100 miler offers runners the chance to break it up into an eight stage relay, says Ben, “you can have up to an eight person relay, but there’s nothing that says one person can’t do more than one relay stage.” The 100 kilometre stage offers five stages and up to a five stage relay. The run goes through the night with many runners taking little to no breaks, “the runners go all day and all night, some might grab a catnap, but most run through.”
If you’d like to catch the runners, they start in St. Paul at Reunion Station at 7:00 am on Saturday, October 3rd. The course cut-off for the 100 milers is Sunday at Reunion Station at 10:00 am. Runner will be racing through Elk Point twice, which is a great opportunity to see their endurance and strength up close, starting at noon on Saturday and throughout the night. Both should pass through the Eco Centre on the Iron Horse trail through the town. To follow the race and pictures, like the Iron Horse Ultra 100 on Facebook.